Macedonia Overview

(Republika Makedonija). State of the Balkan Peninsula (25,713 km²). Capital: Skopje. Administrative division: municipality (30). Population: 2,045,177 (2008 estimate). Language: Macedonian and Albanian (official). Religion: Orthodox 54.4%, Sunni Muslims 29.9%, non-religious / atheists 6.6%, Catholics 3.5%, others 5.6%. Monetary unit: denar (100 deni). Human Development Index: 0.808 (68th place). Borders: Serbia to the N, Albania to the W, Greece to the S, Bulgaria to the E. Member of: Council of Europe, EBRD, UN and OSCE, EU associate.

Small country in the southern Balkans and landlocked, it is crossed from NW to SE by the Vardar River, the main communication route between the Aegean and the Danube regions. The almost entirely mountainous territory is crossed by numerous river valleys within which the major inhabited centers are located. The name of the country is the same as that of the historical region that in the century. IV a. C. was under the rule of the dynasty of semiellenizzata Argeadi, who conquered Greece by Philip II, and much of Asia and the Mediterranean world with his son Alexander the Great, perhaps the greatest conqueror of all time. The majority of the current population of Macedonia, however, is neither indigenous nor of Greek origin, but made up of descendants of the Slavs who occupied the region in the century. YOU. The country also has a strong Albanian component, as well as minorities of Turkish, Romanian, Serbian and Bosnian nationality. Macedonia, formerly a Republic in the Yugoslav federation, proclaimed its secession in 1991, but gained full international recognition as a sovereign state only in 1993, due to the refusal by Greece to accept that the name of a kingdom of antiquity classical of great historical importance, was attributed to a Slavic state. Consequently, the official name of Macedonia with which it was admitted to the UN is the acronym FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). In addition to the hostility of Greece, the new state had to face the discontent of the strong Albanian minority that did not want to recognize itself in a Slavic nation-state. During the 1990s the tensions between the two ethnic communities, on the verge of turning into a real civil war, were kept under control by a peacekeeping force sent by the UN. EU mediation was decisive in the resolution of this ethnic dispute, which took place in August 2001 with the Ohrid Agreements which led to the full legitimation of the Albanian nation among the components of the State and to the enlargement of the rights for this minority (the Albanian was recognized which official language). From an economic point of view, Macedonia, which already at the time of the Yugoslav federation was the republic with the lowest per capita income, is one of the poorest countries in Europe.


On the basis of the Constitution of November 17, 1991, the President of the Republic is elected, for a term of 5 years, by direct suffrage. The parliament is single-chamber, made up of the Legislative Assembly (Sobranje) of 120 members, also elected by direct suffrage and in office for 4 years. The premier is appointed by the President of the Republic, while the individual ministers are elected by the Assembly. According to article 7 of the preamble to the Constitution, Macedonia legitimizes itself as the “national state of the Macedonian people”; however, some amendments to the constitutional charter passed in November 2001 guarantee greater rights to Albanian minorities. The judicial system is autonomous with respect to the other powers of the state, with the Judicial Council – elected every six years by the judges – as the only body to order their appointment and dismissal. The armed forces consist of the army, whose supreme commander is the President of the Republic. Military service is mandatory, NATO, in 2003 the detention was reduced from nine to six months. According to andyeducation, compulsory education lasts eight years, after which it is possible to access higher education, diversified by address. Teaching is given in the student’s mother tongue: Macedonian, Turkish, Albanian and Serbian. Illiteracy affects 3% of the population.


Mountainous massifs intersected by river valleys constitute the main morphological feature of Macedonia. The country is affected by the high and middle course of the Vardar river, which after a first stretch from the N towards the S, rotates clockwise, bathing the capital Skopje and then crosses the entire state from NW to SE up to the border, entering Greece. after changing the name to Axios. Among the reliefs of the western sector, which exceed 2500 meters in altitude, Mount Korab (2764 m) stands out. The eastern orographic system, on the left bank of the Vardar and crossed from NE to SW by its tributary Bregalnica, consists of massifs that generally do not exceed 2000 meters. In the southwestern corner on the border with Albania, there are the great lakes of Prespa and Ohrid; the latter, very deep (286 m) and not very polluted, is an important reserve of fresh water. The climate, while presenting continental characteristics, is also affected by the influence of the Aegean which helps to mitigate temperatures. The Albanian reliefs, preventing access to the humid winds from the West, contain rainfall between 500 and 1000 mm per year, mostly concentrated in spring with alternating periods of summer drought.


The low population density, the extension of wooded reliefs as well as the presence of large lakes and numerous waterways, make Macedonia one of the richest European states in animal and plant biodiversity. In the woods, with a greater density than in other European countries, live deer, wolves, foxes, wild boars and roe deer, while in the prairies you can still meet herds of horses in the wild. The flora below 600 m is characterized by šibljak, a set of coppice and bushy vegetation accompanied by the typical tall trees of the European forest, among which there are lime trees, oaks, hazelnuts and dogwoods. At higher altitude, the hrastalak appears characterized by maple, chestnut and beech trees, while conifers dominate between 1200 and 1500 meters, among which the loricato pine is characteristic. 7% of the national territory is protected according to various forms of protection. The three national parks of Galichica, Mavrovo and Pelister have been established; the latter, which takes its name from the 2600m mountain of the same name, is covered with black pine forests around Prespa Lake. There are also integral nature reserves, protected landscapes, natural monuments and other areas dedicated to the conservation of specific animal and plant species. Lake Ohrid for a third of Albanian territory is considered the most beautiful of all the Balkans for its deep and clean waters that never freeze despite being 698 meters above sea level, and for the cobbled beaches. It contains an exceptional fish heritage, preserving living fossil species that date back to the Tertiary era. The salmon trout, very famous as a gastronomic specialty, also lives in its waters. The Lake Ohrid region was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1979.


Macedonia still preserves, in the extreme poverty that characterizes most of its rural territory, many archaic traditions, which mark its link with the Turkish-derived culture absorbed over the centuries of the Ottoman Empire: in every town, even small ones for a European standard, there is a very popular bazaar, where it is possible to find products from the surrounding countryside, fabrics, wrought irons and locally produced work tools for sale. There is a very strong cultural gap between cities like Skopje and Bitola and the rest of the country, which is mainly rural. It is not uncommon for men, especially the older ones, to wear parts of the traditional costume in the countryside; women, excluding younger girls, are typically dressed in puffy pants, wide smocks and scarves to hide the hair, like the Turkish peasant women. The practice of folk dance is still very much felt: the most famous and loved is the teskoto, a male dance performed to the sound of a drum and flutes, which symbolically represents, with its progressive acceleration, the nationalist awakening of the Macedonians. § Macedonians are very hospitable; their cuisine, very similar to the Turkish one, is based almost everywhere on mutton, in the form of skewers or kebabs. The burek is instead a savory pie filled with meat or cheese; while gravce na tavce are stewed beans.

Macedonia Overview